59: When Your Caregiver Goes to Therapy

59: When Your Caregiver Goes to Therapy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers

When Your Caregiver Goes to Therapy

I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

~Rita Rudner

I promise that my husband, Bob, not only gave me the okay to tell everybody he’s in therapy, but he suggested I write this story for two reasons:

1. He feels nobody should be ashamed of seeing a therapist.

2. I’m acting deranged.

Nearly all caregivers are under a lot of stress. Bob’s going to therapy because he’s having a hard time living with the reality of the huge changes in our lives since my spinal-cord injury.

I vowed I’d never in a million years ask him what he talks about. Here’s how it went after his first session.

Me: “What did you talk about?”

He left the room. I grabbed my cane and followed.

“I swear I’m okay about you going to therapy,” I lied.

“You’re threatened to death.”

“I’m not! Unless you talk about me. You don’t, right?”

He walked away. I found him in the kitchen. “You didn’t talk about sex, did you? That’s all every therapist wants to hear about. They’re all perverts. That’s why they go into the profession in the first place—to hear everybody’s dirty stories.” I shook my head in disgust. “Can you imagine getting paid to be a sitting peeping Tom?”

He scratched his head and said (sarcastically I think), “Gee. Didn’t you have your own therapy practice for 22 years?”

“Yes. That’s why I’m an expert at recognizing when people change subjects.” I took out a pad and pen. “Let’s get back to discussing what you talked about.”

“I wasn’t talking about that.”

I hobbled over to my purse and pulled out a sealed envelope. “Don’t read this,” I said. “Just give it to your doctor.”

He tore open the envelope and read aloud, “No matter what Bob says, I’ve never pointed out that I can barely walk and he can. I’ve handled my disability with the courage of Mother Teresa. I have never expressed self-pity in the form of singing all day long, ‘Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen,’ and I do not hum it loudly, heavily sighing between words, while he’s sleeping. PS. I didn’t start whatever fight he talked about.”

He tore up the letter.

“Bob, I just want to know one thing.”

“There’s never one thing.”

“Does he want me to come with you to therapy?”

“I have no idea.”

“Oh, no, Bob! He does?” I felt faint.

“I didn’t say that.”

“I bet he does. I don’t want to go,” I said. “I’m not mental. You are.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because YOU are the one seeing a shrink!”

He sat with me on the couch and held my hands in his. “Saralee, I like talking to him. It helps me.”

“But you could talk to me for free!”

“No offense, but you’re a lunatic.”

“Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that. Just try talking to me. I promise on my mother’s eyes I’ll be objective.”

“Your mother’s dead.”

“Give me one chance,” I pleaded.

He sighed, still holding my hands, “Okay. Pretend you’re my therapist.” I nodded. He said, “Sometimes it’s hard being a caregiver.”

“You, you, you! Why don’t you put yourself in her shoes for a change? Oh, that’s right. She can barely walk in her shoes!”

He got up and went to his office, muttering, “I’m not discussing this anymore.”

Before his session, I saw him stick a ballpoint pen inside his notebook. He brought that along to take notes. I shuffled to his office and hugged him. I kept my arms around him for a lovingly long time while I gingerly felt his back pockets for the notebook. He softly kissed me and whispered, “It’s in my locked desk drawer.”

Later, after supper, I said, “Sweetheart. Please forgive me for how I’m acting.”

“On one condition,” he said.

“Anything. You name it.”

“You’ll never bring up therapy again.”

“Got an alternate condition?”

“Nope.”

Caregivers need as much care as the people who are depending on them. If our caregiver wants help, it will actually be better for us, too.

If we’re threatened, that’s natural. Of course, we’re worried about what someone who is close to us is saying about us. But we can help ourselves deal with our fears in a healthy way. Here’s how:

1. Remember that a good therapist will actually help improve our situation.

2. Amazon is selling a ballpoint pen that has an 8-gigabyte digital voice recorder inside it.

~Saralee Perel

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